Ben Brown Fine Arts is honoured to present the first solo exhibition of paintings by Jan Worst in Hong Kong. Ben Brown Fine Arts most recently exhibited Worst’s work in 2010 at the London gallery. A meticulous and methodical painter, Worst typically produces four large-scale paintings a year. We proudly bring together a selection of works painted over the last 20 years, exemplifying Worst’s dedication to a serial depiction of subject matter, deft painterly skill and highly charged and provocative imagery.
Worst’s paintings portray stately and lavish interiors, focusing on ornamental details such as the tapestries, gilded mouldings, glittering chandeliers, antiquities, elaborate table settings and imposing libraries of these historic, presumably European, grand homes. Incongruously confined within each dimly lit interior is a young woman—whose likeness is directly inspired by contemporary fashion magazines—scantily clad, gazing into the distance, languorously perched upon the formal furniture. Adding to the tension and sense of voyeurism in these paintings, there is often a seemingly aristocratic small child or older gentleman lurking in a corner or shadow, the female figure entirely unaware of or indifferent to their presence.
There is a deliberate ambiguity to Worst’s paintings that he has sustained throughout his entire oeuvre. Is Worst glorifying or critiquing the wealth and privilege of his subjects and their luxurious dwellings? What are these seductive women doing in these staid and airless rooms and what is their relationship to the children and men in the paintings? Are all these paintings linked in some way to provide clues to a narrative the artist has not yet revealed? Worst’s paintings challenge viewers with these questions while at the same time simply allow us to savour their beauty, opulence and richness of detail, all perhaps a meditation on human desire.